Why you might be a Satanist

Growing up, I was given the impression that a Satanist was a person who listened to AC/DC, bit the heads off baby chickens, and openly worshiped Diablo.

I never met one, that I’m aware of, but I pictured them to be people of the gothic persuasion—white make-up, dark eyes, and chains hanging from clothing and/or body parts. The thought of Satan, and his followers kept me up at night. My youth group watched a video called Hells Bells on the evil of Rock music that literally gave me nightmares.

So, it became easy to separate light from darkness. Michael W. Smith: Good. Ozzy Osbourne: Evil. Just avoid MTV and all is well.

However, experience has taught me that real life is never that black and white. A few years ago, while researching for a sermon, I found myself on the official Church of Satan website. Word of advice: Never find yourself on the church of Satan website, but if you must, bring a friend. Or two. And keep the lights on.

It was legitimately creepy, black screens and bizarre photos, but the weirdest thing was what I found in the churches guidelines.

One of the rules completely blew me away, and shattered a stereotype.

If a substance is legal, a Satanist may or may not choose to indulge in it. “Indulgence, NOT compulsion” is your guide. Since survival is the highest law, the Satanist will not ruin or poison his or her body, even if it is legal to do so. This is an important distinction. Self-destructive, suicidal hedonism—via whatever means—is ultimately un-Satanic as it threatens the very thing a Satanist holds most dear: his own life.

This principle was created regarding the use of drugs and alcohol. Honestly, I would have assumed the contrary. I would imagine scenes of absolute debauchery, people drowning in endless bottles of liquor, passing pills and needles around the room like candy. Not at all. According to this principle, Satanists are not about benders and excess, but self-preservation and control.

Self destruction is “un-Satanic.” The dearest thing to a Satanist, apparently, is this life, the here-and-now. What’s haunting is how closely this matches the sentiment of much of society, even Christians.

Life is significant. It is important to hold loved ones near and to savor every moment, to stop and smell flowers. But with this logic we also tend to buy into a lie. It’s the belief that this life is all there is, so we need to earn as much money as we can, get as much stuff as possible, and fill our days with beauty before Father Time steps in and takes it all away.

What if there is existence after life? What if the decisions we make, and the things we value have more to do with what’s to come than the few days we spend here?

Jesus had this to say about our approach to living:

If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. (Luke 17:33 NLT)

He also said this:

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:35-36 ESV)

Jesus isn’t calling for a self-loathing or masochistic attitude; he is trying to shift perspective away from temporal things. He loves life. In fact, he died that we might experience “abundant” life. But that can only be found in him. Otherwise, the best day on earth is all there is. All that remains is never-ending separation.

The Bible promises an eternal life without pain or violence, the need to lock doors. No more doctor’s visits or family feuds, just permanent pleasure in the presence of God. But maybe some of you aren’t buying that. Perhaps you side with the Satanists, living only for this life. Trust me, I get it.

In many ways, I had them all wrong. Turns out I have been a Satanist many times throughout the years. Minus all the chicken heads.

What about you? Join the discussion below.

Photo Credit: Elyce Feliz (Creative Commons)

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